Mexican Tortilla Soup

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      Mexican Tortilla Soup

      2 dried ancho chilies
      14.5-oz can fire-roasted tomatoes
      2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
      1 yellow onion, medium dice
      4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
      2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
      1 bunch collard greens or curly kale, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
      1 and 1/2 lb chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
      kosher salt
      freshly ground black pepper
      juice from half a lime

      fresh lime wedges
      tortilla chips, crushed
      freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
      diced ripe avocado
      fresh cilantro leaves

      Using metal tongs, toast the chilies carefully over an open flame (using a gas burner–or alternatively, in a dry skillet over medium heat) until they are pliable, slightly blistered, and very fragrant. Set aside on a cutting board to cool. Cut in half, and scrape out and discard the seeds and stems. Cut the chilies into smaller pieces and place in a high-powered blender, along with the fire-roasted tomatoes and their juices. Set aside.
      Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion and a large sprinkle of kosher salt. Sauté for 8 to 10 min, stirring frequently, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for an additional 30 sec to 1 min, stirring continuously, until fragrant. Remove from the heat.
      Transfer the cooked onion and garlic mixture to the blender with the chilies and fire-roasted tomatoes. Puree the ingredients together, scraping down the blender if necessary, until the chilies have been fully integrated and the mixture is completely smooth and dark orange-red in color.
      Return the empty soup pot to high heat. Once the pot is very hot, add the pureed tomato chili mixture all at once–it should sizzle immediately when it hits the pan. Continue to cook over high heat for about 4 to 5 min, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the mixture thickens and concentrates substantially. It will splutter and bubble a bit. Once ready, the mixture should be slightly darker in color and resemble the thickness of a loose tomato paste.
      Add the chicken broth to the pot and combine thoroughly using a spoon or whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and allow the broth to lightly simmer, uncovered, for 20 min, stirring occasionally. Season the broth with salt and pepper.
      Over low heat, add the chopped greens and stir until fully incorporated. Allow the greens to cook at a low simmer for about 5 to 7 min, or until they are very tender. Add the chicken and stir to distribute. Cook for an additional 2 to 3 min over very low heat, stirring once or twice, until the chicken has just cooked through (this will not take long, so watch the pot carefully to avoid overcooking it). Just before serving, add the juice of half a lime. Taste once again, seasoning with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
      Serve hot and garnish with toppings (or alternatively, place desired toppings in the empty soup bowls and ladle the soup directly over them). Serves 4-5
      balloony  smilie

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